Inside: If you’re feeling stuck in your career, lipstick is going to seem like a weird solution. It makes sense, promise. Take this advice from a career coach to find your confidence, own your awesome, and build a career you love.
There’s a piece of advice I share with coaching clients from time to time that may sound completely out of left field, but I’ve seen it work.
I promise I’m not getting all anti-feminist on you and telling you that you need to smile more. But I am serious about the lipstick!
Hear me out on this.
That “Stuck” Feeling
Several years ago, I was feeling stuck in my career.
I had a great job in higher education and was surrounded by wonderful colleagues, but I also had this creative side of me that was itching to get out.
Actually it was kicking and screaming to get out like a very needy toddler.
See, the job I was in and had worked very hard to earn was all about logistics. It played to my strengths as a planner and I loved seeing our events go off without a hitch. We provided students with career development tools they needed and that was awesome – go us! It wasn’t a very creative job though. Picture LOTS of spreadsheets.
To fuel that need for creativity, I had started my funny working mom blog after my daughter was born and it had been a great outlet. I could talk about whatever I wanted, crack jokes, and play around with visuals on my website to my heart’s content. It just wasn’t enough though! I was spending so much of my time at work, I wanted to find more fulfillment and joy between the hours of 9 and 5.
I needed creativity to be central to my life and not just live on the periphery.
Bringing the Creative Vibes
Looking around the office, I saw opportunities to take on more creative projects at work, but I felt a sense of impostor syndrome.
Would my creative side be appreciated or needed? Should I just stay in my own lane? Did I think I was creative but in reality I was a big old fraud?
I bet you’ve been there. Impostor syndrome happens to the best of us, and more often than not, it happens to women.
I could have let the impostor syndrome drive the train going forward and it would have been safer and in some ways easier to do that. But that kicking, screaming, toddler inside wasn’t having it. Not one bit. So to feel creative at work and overcome my impostor syndrome, I stepped out of my comfort zone and did something that may sound odd at first.
I started wearing bright red lipstick.
There was nothing shrinking violet about this color either. Not just a little dash of red. It was bold, out there, in your face. Take me or leave me, here I am world style red.
Shaking In My Payless Flats and Red Lips
The first morning I put that red lipstick on before work was terrifying. What would people think of the operations manager in the Payless flats and old dress pants wearing the very uncharacteristic bold makeup?
I walked in the door and no one mentioned it. Okay, day one down.
The next morning was a little less terrifying, and every day it got easier to show up at work expressing a different side of myself. The bolder side, the creative side, the side that wanted to get out there into the world.
After about a week of lipstick, a coworker who had read my blog said to me “Becca, it’s like we’re seeing this whole other side of you. Between your blog and the red lips! It’s great!”
YES. We’re making progress.
Putting Creativity into My Career Development Plan
Fast forward several more weeks and months and something clicked.
I wasn’t given creative projects because I was wearing lipstick, but I felt more confident raising my hand to ask for them. As a result, I spent my days in more brainstorming sessions, writing articles for the student, alumni, and employer blogs, and collaborating with the marketing team as they redesigned the website. Work became, quite simply, more fun!
Fast forward a few more years, and I didn’t leave my job to be an entrepreneur because of lipstick, but I did start to see ways to combine creativity with what I viewed as professionalism. As a career coach, I didn’t have to be buttoned up all the time for people to take me seriously. I could own what makes me me, the creative vibes that give me so much joy, and create a career of my very own.
Nowadays I’m not wearing red lipstick all the time, but I do pull it out when I need a boost. And more importantly, I’m not worried about showing up authentically with my clients, on social media, and in my writing. I feel confident that I have something worth putting out there, and that’s a darn good feeling.
Find Your Lipstick and Get Unstuck in Your Career
Finding confidence as part of your career development plan doesn’t need to be about lipstick for you. Not at all!
But if you’re feeling stuck, I encourage you to find your own version of the red lipstick.
Something physical that pushes you to the edge of your comfort zone. Something that becomes a suit of armor to make you feel powerful. YOUR thing that ignites you and shows off your awesome to the world.
You have the fire. Go let it it burn bright!
And not for nothing, but I think you look fabulous in red.